A pediatric nurse practitioner, also known as an NP, is a licensed nurse who specializes in basic care for newborns, infants, children, toddlers, and school-age children. They have been approved by the boards of nursing in their states of practice. These practitioners are required to take an approved education course as well as national certification upon graduation from their training program. As a nurse practitioner, the primary focus is to diagnose, treat, and help manage children's medical and mental health issues.
Nurses in the United States are licensed through state boards of nursing. The purpose of the educational requirements for a practitioner of this type of nursing is to become skilled in diagnosing and treating common childhood illnesses. This includes pediatric cases such as diarrhea, dysentery, ear infections, and fever. They also help to create a child's care plan and work with parents to help them learn how to care for a child with a particular illness or condition.
A nurse practitioner can specialize in treating children with specific illnesses such as asthma, allergies, diabetes, epilepsy, and obesity. They might also choose to specialize in any other medical concern, such as pediatrics, endocrinology, gynecology, women's health, or infectious diseases. They receive additional training on topics such as developmental disabilities, family medicine, and traumatized pediatrics. Parents can schedule one of these clinics at local hospitals or special care centers.
As a part of their training, practitioners are taught about best practice in dealing with pediatric patients. Their focus is on the child's entire wellness, not just his physical being. For example, if a child is suffering from dehydration, the NP might order fluids and food tests. In addition, the practitioner will likely teach parents how to monitor their child's eating habits and activity levels. This helps prevent the sudden onset of an illness or injury that could compromise his or her health.
Once in private practice, a PN becomes a child psychologist. The PN helps families and doctors to create a plan for treatment based on the child's needs. They help create a treatment protocol that includes the medications, devices, therapies, exercise programs, and emotional support the child needs. The goal is to make sure that the child's symptoms improve quickly and permanently.
The career outlook for a pediatric nurse practitioner position is good. Some nurses begin their careers as PNs and later go on to become full-time faculty members at a hospital or specialty clinic. Others begin teaching and conducting research in their field. And many go on to become practitioners in other specialties in the area of pediatrics.